One of my favourite subjects and one that I base a lot of my work on; Flowers- what's not to love?
They are a constant source of amazement and beauty to me. No two are ever exactly the same and the intricate complexity of their structures, particularly seen with a macro lens, often takes my breath away.
Firstly let me say, despite their compelling beauty, they are not that easy to photograph. Firstly, size can be a problem as they are usually no bigger than your fist. The details of small subjects can be difficult to capture without the right equipment.
Secondly, access to a variety of species, shapes and colours can sometimes be tough. Depending on where you live, seasons, weather and local plantings will have an impact on the types of flowers you can use. To supplement your choices you might like to go to your local botanic garden, hothouse, nursery or florist, but everything costs money, right?
Perhaps the most challenging problem is access to the correct lighting, without it you just get to see the structures up close.
Ok enough complaining, here's how I tackle those challenges...
For detailed shots you need to get close and minimise movement. Use a tripod and either a zoom or macro lens, however, you need bright light to get the right results. If there is unreliable light on location, sometimes I use a bright torch to help my lenses pick up the details. Never use a flash directly on the subject- bounce it off something else to achieve more natural light.
The location of your subject impacts greatly on how you should approach shooting flowers. You can choose to shoot in the elements where the plant is located, but be mindful that things like wind movement and the available background colour will have an impact. for example, if there is a really ugly brick wall in the frame, sometimes I take a piece of coloured card with me to position behind the flower as a replacement background. You may not see too much in your frame, but even reflected colour can make a difference. If it's really windy- forget it, take the studio option instead.
A trip to the local florist, a space where you can control the light and movement, and enough room to move your camera to different angles is all you'll need to set up a studio. Use available light or artificial, but remember that lights have a cool or warm cast that can affect your images.
Finally one of the biggest challenges is how to photograph flowers in a way that is fresh and different. Everyone has photographed at least one flower in their lives and they all look the same right?
As they are 3-Dimensional, I think of them as tiny buildings with architectural structures that vary from different angles. Another way to create a fresh look is to use a narrow depth-of-field to focus on a part of the flower, rather than the whole.
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Flowers are a great subject to practice your composition and using depth of field. These tips will help you on your way;
Access to a variety can be tough so look for different ways to source them, a friend's garden, florist etc.
Regardless of the conditions, use a tripod to ensure your images a sharp.
Whether you are on location or 'in studio', use an extra light source like a torch to help your camera lenses pick up the details.
Try to compose your frame in a fresh way so that you're not repeating the endless 'flower pics' we see everywhere.